Prosecutors chose to pursue a harder to prove case against a former top government official to expose how it bore “all the hallmarks” of corruption, Hong Kong’s top court heard on Wednesday. David Perry QC, who successfully prosecuted Rafael Hui Si-yan in 2014 , conceded at the Court of Final Appeal that instead of accusing the former chief secretary of receiving millions of dollars in exchange for breaching his public duty, he could have just gone after Hui for not disclosing the sum. Hui, who was chief secretary between 2005 and 2007, was jailed for 7 1 /2 years after a jury decided Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) paid him HK$19.8 million to be its “eyes and ears” in government. The city’s former No 2 official is appealing against his conviction for conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. As he was convicted on four other counts, he will remain in prison regardless of the outcome. Property tycoon Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, who co-chaired SHKP, was jailed at the same time as Hui, having been found guilty of paying him HK$8.5 million via middlemen just days before Hui assumed office. In the current appeal, Kwok’s lawyers questioned why prosecutors had accused Hui of taking the money and then being “favourably disposed” to Kwok and SHKP, without proving he had agreed to or engaged in corrupt acts. Donald Tsang to serve jail term in same prison as Rafael Hui But they accepted the prosecutors could have pinpointed another aspect of misconduct to accuse Hui of failure to disclose, which constituted an act – although it did not necessarily amount to corruption. Perry told a panel of top judges: “I accept and acknowledge that it was possible for the prosecution to charge [with] failure to disclose. “But the problem was that it failed to capture the true essence of the criminality of the case”, which bore “all the hallmarks of being bribed”. “It was the use of a public office for private gain, a quite distinct and serious allegation,” Perry said. Former SHKP executive Thomas Chan Kui-yuen and former stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang, who are serving six and five years respectively for handling HK$11.18 million as middlemen, are also appealing their convictions. It was the use of a public office for private gain, a quite distinct and serious allegation David Perry, QC Kwok, who was jailed for five years but is out on bail pending the appeal, said when he entered the courtroom yesterday that he had grown less nervous. “I am human. I am not perfect. I think God’s grace is sufficient for me, even though I am weak,” the tycoon said. Hitting back at a suggestion by the defence that there was no evidence of any act by Hui in return for the money, Perry countered the act lay in Hui being continuously favourably disposed to the developer. “By being or remaining favourably disposed, it’s a course of continuation. It’s a state of affairs that stamps the conduct of a public official during the course of office as culpable,” he said, adding that Hui had also exposed himself to blackmail. Clare Montgomery QC, for Kwok, replied that to allow Hui’s conviction to stand without an act or agreement proved would be unprecedented in the history of common law. She added that the judges’ decisions could have an impact on other jurisdictions if they rejected the appeal. Montgomery said it might become difficult to draw the line between those who legitimately accepted payments before assuming office and others who did so illegally. She cited the example of US President Donald Trump , who amassed his vast business empire legally prior to his taking office. Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said he would reserve judgment for a later, unspecified date. He extended Kwok’s bail until the day of the ruling.